In this article you will find the fascinating testimony of Francis Barel, Managing Director of PayPal France.

Can you introduce yourself and briefly review your academic career?

I am Francis Barel, currently Managing Director of PayPal France, where I have been fortunate to have worked for over a decade.

To briefly return to my educational career, after the baccalaureate I completed a preparatory class HEC at the Lycée Pasteur, in Neuilly, which opened the doors of EDHEC after the competitive exams in 1997. During my studies at this school, I took the rare opportunity at the time to take a gap year, during which I completed a one-year internship at Renault .

After obtaining my diploma from EDHEC, I joined BNP Paribas where I worked for two and a half years. However, my desire to continue my professional and academic development led me to the United States, where I undertook an MBA at the prestigious Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Following my MBA, I moved to new York to join a strategy firm specializing in financial services, where I had the opportunity to put into practice the skills acquired during my course.

For personal reasons, I made the decision to return to France and joined a small local firm which shared the same areas of expertise as my previous employer.

At the start of 2013, I joined the teams of PayPal as Business Developer for the Middle East region. Thanks to my knowledge of the region and my passion for the company, I was able to take charge of this region.

In 2016, I resumed my business development missions but this time in France then at the end of 2019, I was honored to become the Director France of the PayPal group. Most recently, I was delighted to join the European Management team, an additional opportunity for me to contribute to PayPal's continued success in the region.

What do you think is the secret to a successful career?

In my opinion, at the heart of a successful career lies above all the pursuit of your passion and the building of a solid network.

Indeed, the networking plays a crucial role in our professional journey. It allows us to stay informed of opportunities in companies that interest us, to meet the right people and to develop our careers both internally and externally.

Personally, my network helped me a lot in getting my previous jobs, and I want to make it clear that it is important to distinguish between a genuine network and the piston.

As for passion, it is essential in professional life. The latter plays a fundamental role in professional life. Getting involved in activities that excite us provides real satisfaction. For my part, this enthusiasm for the payment sector naturally led me to join PayPal, a company perfectly suited to my interests.

You have many experiences abroad, what have you learned from them?

I think that today it is essential to have international experience, because our world is highly interconnected, going beyond the borders of French companies. Even companies like Renault or BNP Paribas generate a significant part of their turnover abroad, which demonstrates the importance of the international market.

To succeed in this global context, it goes without saying that being fluent in English is essential. I am also convinced that developing a cultural openness to adapt to the customs of each country is essential. For example, throughout my professional career, I had the opportunity to work for Renault in Slovenia and in Australia, then for BNP Paribas in Poland, Hong Kong and Panama. These experiences truly taught me the importance of adaptability and the ability to adjust in varied environments to succeed in an international career.

In addition, it is essential to be well organized when traveling internationally. When we travel, we must be ready to have a series of meetings and encounters, while efficiently managing logistics. For example, during my stay in Cairo, Egypt, I had to anticipate traffic jams and organize maximum 3 appointments per day to optimize my time on site while in Dubai I managed to schedule up to 12 meetings per day. Good organization therefore becomes the key to success in a demanding international environment.

What are the challenges you face every day in your work at this company?

The reality is very different from the preconceived idea. Every day is a challenge, nothing is taken for granted, and working for a well-known multinational does not mean that everything is handed to us on a platter.

This company is complexwith sophisticated structures and products. At first, I had to learn quickly on the job, but it allowed me to develop the network I mentioned earlier.

In addition, we face crisis situations where our customers challenge us daily on the prices and services we offer. We must convince them and demonstrate that our service provides real added value, which far exceeds the price. It is a constant exercise in persuasion and demonstration of the quality of our services.

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For those still uninitiated, can you describe the main missions of PayPal?

PayPal is a company whose main mission is to facilitate and secure payments between different parties, whether individuals or businesses. It all began in 1998, with a P2P approach, literally allowing you to “Pay a friend” via the beginnings of smartphones at the time, then gradually via the Internet. Quickly, PayPal has expanded to eBay and the entire e-commerce sector. Security and simplicity have always been at the heart of our platform, offering consumers the ability to pay anywhere, anytime, and securely.

Over the last 25 years, we have experienced remarkable evolution, becoming today an independent company listed on Nasdaq. In 2022, our turnover reached more than $27 billion, with a business volume of 1,350 billion. Around the world, we count 435 million active users, including 35 million traders. In France, we are proud to have 14 million active users, including 1 million merchants.

Currently, we offer various payment options, from wallet to credit card, including “pay-in” and “pay-out”. We also offer lending solutions to both consumers and merchants through to the PayPal Financing Pro product. In a sector that has become very competitive, we are determined to innovate every day and offer new products to our customers, in order to remain at the forefront of the payment industry.

How would you describe the French market regarding payment methods?

Indeed, the French market is largely focused on the use of bank cards, in particular debit cards. It is undeniable that each country maintains its specificities in terms of payment. For example, Italians greatly favor the use of cash and prepaid cards. The English and Americans, for their part, prefer credit cards rather than debit cards. The Germans, for their part, are very inclined to bank transfers.

However, nowadays we see that the younger generation tends to adopt similar behaviors, whatever the country.

Also, I like to remind Americans that the French discovered the ancestor of the Internet thanks to Minitel, long before the existence of PayPal. In fact, 40 years ago, the French were already making purchases via Minitel. I remember personally buying train tickets at the time using Minitel.

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How would you describe the collaboration between the different departments within PayPal? Can you give us a concrete example of international collaboration?

One thing that I really appreciate is the exceptional collaboration between the different departments. Despite our scale as a large company, we maintain a startup spirit, especially in Europe. Our agility, dynamism, connectivity and responsiveness greatly facilitate collaboration with our colleagues around the world.

In Europe, we have the advantage of being ideally located between the Asia zone and the America zone. This translates into busy days, because first thing in the morning we can make calls with our Asian colleagues, and at the end of the day we are in communication with our American colleagues. This work dynamic allows us to stay permanently connected with our teams.

For example, this morning I had a meeting with the Marketing team who presented us an operation that took place in Mexico. We found this marketing campaign very interesting and decided to reproduce it in France, Italy and Spain. So I had meetings with the Marketing management of Italy and Spain to adapt this Mexican campaign in Europe.

How does PayPal plan to contribute to the European ecosystem in collaboration with other players in the region?

At PayPal we have an investment vehicle called PayPal Ventures, which operates with a dedicated team in Europe. Our approach is to invest in startups Fintech while also paying great attention to the cybersecurity. Our vision is to fully integrate into the European ecosystem, collaborating with key players in this constantly evolving region.

As far as the French ecosystem is concerned, it is undeniably dynamic and sophisticated. Thanks to the presence of prestigious schools, innovative services and products are developed there, the region attracts funds and clients, thus creating a virtuous circle of opportunities. This stimulating excitement motivates us to seize the best opportunities through investments or acquisitions. to contribute to its development and prosperity.

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Is PayPal looking for interns? What is the recruitment policy? A word to convince our readers to join you?

Indeed, we are currently looking for interns for two periods, from January to June and from July to December. For January courses, interviews usually start in Septemberwhile for those of July, they start in February/March at the latest.

Let me share with you my enthusiasm for PayPal. I consider this company to be the most beautiful in the world. The payments sector is, in my opinion, a remarkable but still too little-known industry. This is a growing field, which encompasses many sectors and plays an essential role in the French economy. In my opinion, working in this sector offers a multitude of exciting opportunities on a daily basis, allowing us to explore a wide range of captivating topics.

A big thank you to Francis Barel for this interview.

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